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Jon Craig,
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Howard Wilkinson,
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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Luken dynasty now falls to third generation

Mayor Charlie Luken talks to daughter Lauren and son Sam the night of his election as mayor in 1999. (Photo by Steven M. Herppich/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

In 1971, Thomas A. Luken became the city's first Democratic mayor in decades, then used the Watergate scandal to run for and win a seat in Congress -- a seat he later lost but then regained against stiff GOP opposition.

His brother, James T. Luken, was a chain-smoking old union boss who rose to international prominence when, as head of the Milk and Ice Cream Drivers and Dairy Workers Local 98, he rebuffed a takeover attempt by the Teamsters' Jimmy Hoffa. James Luken, too, became mayor.

Then, as Jim Luken was dying of cancer, nephew Charlie Luken -- Tom's son -- ran for City Council, beginning a political career that would later lead him to become the longest-serving mayor in the city's history -- a stint that ends today.

The Luken clan has had an incredible run in Cincinnati politics. So what's next? Barring a third act for 54-year-old Charlie Luken, the dynasty might fall to son Sam Luken.

Sam got his start in politics at an early age, when one of Bill Cunningham's favorite schticks on WLW was to call the then-Mayor Charlie Luken's Mount Airy home at bedtime and try to get Sam, age 11, to say something incriminating about his dad.

At a reception at the Queen City Club last month, no one worked the room of politicos as diligently as Sam, who shook hands with every CEO, congressman, union president and friend of his father's who walked in the door.

Don't expect any imminent announcements. Sam Luken, 28, is registered to vote in Franklin County, where he works in Columbus as an energy broker for American Electric Power. But no less a judge of political talent than Charlie Luken suspects that Sam could make his mark the family business.

"He's got it all. He's got his mother's charm and his father's guile. He has a combination of skills that gives him much more potential than I had," Charlie said last week.

But he said the choice is up to his children. "I'd be wonderfully proud," Charlie said. "It's a choice they shouldn't be pushed into."

Friday, December 02, 2005

And on the second day, he rested

Mayor Mark Mallory was not in his office today. Staffers said he was taking the day off after a busy week of organizing City Council and preparing for his inauguration Thursday.

West Side group embraces former foe Mallory

Members of POWR PAC cozy up to the new mayor in a photo-op with its endorsed candidates after the inaugural ceremony Thursday. From left, Price Hill Civic Club President Peter G. Witte, Council members Leslie Ghiz, John Cranley, Cecil Thomas, Jeff Berding and Chris Monzel, Mayor Mark Mallory, and Westwood Concern Founder Mary Kuhl.

During the mayoral campaign, David Pepper had no more stalwart supporter on the trail than POWR PAC -- the Partnership of West Side Residents founded by neighborhood activists Peter G. Witte of West Price Hill and Mary Kuhl of Westwood.

But on election night, minutes after it became clear that Mark Mallory would be the next mayor, Witte was already tipping his hat to the new constitution. "He's the man, now," he told a reporter at the Board of Elections.

And when Mallory announced his committee chairs Wednesday night, Witte was ecstatic. "This is a great start. Party lines are blurred. This is exceptional," he said. "I don't know if people will appreciate just how much of an improvement this will be. ... The days of grandstanding are over."

Remember the witty Peter who dogged Mallory during the camapaign? He said Thursday he'd make Mallory an honorary member of POWR PAC.

Peter G. Witte protests a Mark Mallory campaign event in East Price Hill in October.

As city feted Mallory, Crowley had his own party

Councilman David C. Crowley said he wasn't boycotting Mayor Mark Mallory's inaugural speech and reception at Union Terminal Thursday -- but admitted he wasn't going to go out of his way to attend, either.

"I was not making a statement, but I will admit to you that it was more comfortable for me not to be there," Crowley said in a voicemail late Thursday after returning home from the party.

Crowley said he was holding his own reception for campaign supporters -- something he had planned weeks ago -- while the mayor was introducing his tripartisan "team" of eight other council members on the Union Terminal stage.

The third-term Democrat publicly split from that team Thursday when he gave an inaugural speech lamenting Mallory's decision not to give him a committee chairmanship.

Crowley also e-mailed this clarification of the "death pact" he made with Laketa Cole, in which each would agree to name each other's successor. By saying "Cole came to him" with her successor designation form, he did not mean to imply it was her idea as was reported Thursday, he said:
What I said was that we each arrived at that decision independently and almost simultaneously. I had already signed my form and 10 minutes later was told Laketa wanted to see me. I walked into her office on my way into Chambers and she asked whom I had designated. I answered, "you." She then turned over her form to show me my name as her successor. We did not plan it that way. That was how we both felt at that time.

Reece asked Luken to resign, former mayor says

Mayor Charlie Luken announced his pick of Alicia Reece as vice mayor the day after Election Day, 2001. (Photo by Tony Jones/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

In the summer of 2004, Vice Mayor Alicia Reece asked Mayor Charlie Luken out to lunch. They never had a close working relationship to begin with, but the lunch ended so badly that neither one would talk about it publicly afterward.

Until now.

In an interview last week, Luken confirmed rumors that Reece -- his own vice mayor -- had asked him to resign.

"Her point was that the city needed an African-American mayor, and she thought it was her time," Luken said. Reece was about to launch her own campaign for mayor, and thought incumbency would give her a leg up on rivals like Mark Mallory and David Pepper.

Luken said he can't remember his exact response -- "What do you think I said?" he asked rhetorically -- but said he wasn't shocked.

"It wasn't fun," he said. "But people who have watched the vice mayor won't be surprised."

Reece has a different interpretation of events. She said she was caught off guard by Luken's announcement in August 2004 that he would not run again, and thought she deserved to be kept in the loop on his political plans.

"I had lunch with him and asked him if he was not going to finish his term," Reece recounted "Because if he was, I wanted to know more than five minutes before."

"In hindsight," she said, "there are a lot of folks who thought he should have stepped down." She did not say if she was one of them.

Reece's father and campaign manager, Steve Reece Sr., reiterated the vice mayor's version of events. "If they did have a meeting, it has to be real clear that it happened after Charlie Luken announced he wasn't going to run for re-election -- if it happened. And I'm not saying it did. I wasn't there."

Reece Sr. said the incident was a non-story. "I'm not sure it's significant. I think the story should be Charlie Luken. What the hell did he accomplish?"

So if Luken and Reece were so obviously at odds -- on issues from economic development to police relations to the treatment of the city manager -- why didn't Luken remove her as vice mayor? The charter makes clear that he can select a new vice mayor at any time.

But Luken was worried the move would backfire. He remembers 1987, when the GOP yanked its endorsement of liberal Republican Guy C. Guckenberger over abortion, the environment and gay rights. Guckenberger ran as an independent and had his best finish ever.

Power plays don't always play well in Cincinnati politics.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Crowley and Cole swap successor certificates

Councilman David C. Crowley talked to a scrum of reporters immediately following the swearing-in ceremony.

Democratic council members David C. Crowley and Laketa Cole broke with tradition today, forming a two-member back-scratching alliance in which they would appoint each other's successor if the other one leaves office.

The action by two of City Council's most liberal members could signal a split in the Democratic caucus -- especially after Crowley's public criticism of how Mayor Mark Mallory has organized City Council.

The "successor designation certificate," as it's called, is a requirement of the city charter:
Section 4a. Before taking the oath of office each member-elect of council shall file with the council a successor designation certificate certifying the name of one or more fellow members of council to select a successor if his or her office as member of council becomes vacant for any reason.
Past practice -- at least for the past few decades -- has been for council members to name all the members of their own party. There have been a few exceptions when the caucus splits, as it did when former Mayor Charlie Luken established the "Gang of Five" with Republicans and conservative Democrats in 2005, or when there's only one member of a party, as when Charterite Jim Tarbell selected Republican Phil Heimlich.

Crowley said the successor swap was Cole's idea. "She and I were arguing on the same side for the last three days on the rules," he said. "She was the one I trusted."

Said Cole: "He's the one person who I know will uphold what I want, and will respect my wishes."

Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Timothy M. Burke said it's premature to say the certificates are evidence of a split in the party.

"I'm not that upset about it at the moment," Burke said. He said he would ask Crowley and Cole to reconsider (council members can amend their certificates at any time), but "today might not be the best day to talk about it."

UPDATE (Friday, 2:34 p.m.): Crowley clarified his account of how the "death pact" came about.

Who swears them in reveals who they are

Mayor Mark Mallory hugs his brother, Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge William L. Mallory Jr. (in robes), after taking the oath of office today. Councilmen Jeff Berding, Chris Monzel and Chris Bortz applaud in the background. (Photo by Michael E. Keating/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Elected officials put a lot of thought into who they select to stand with them and read the oath of office -- and who they pick often says a lot about who they are. A wrapup of today's oath-takers and their oath-givers:
  • Democratic Mayor Mark Mallory: Brother William L. Mallory Jr., a newly re-elected municipal court judge. "My family is the most important thing that I have. As you know, public service runs in my family. I guess you could call it the family business," the mayor said. "It's a special time and I wanted to make sure special people were involved."

    The judge, who appeared in judicial robes, gave is brother a hug and said, "This will be the last time I get to beat up on you. ... My little brother, I am so proud of you.

    "By the way, I am the best-dressed Mallory," the judge said.

  • Democrat Jeff Berding: Former Mayor and U.S. Rep. David S. Mann. "His compassion, integrity and intellect sets me on a course of how I want to serve this city," Berding said in a speech.

  • Charterite Chris Bortz: Uncle and former Mayor Arn Bortz.

  • Democrat Laketa Cole: Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Cheryl Grant, who administered the longest oath of the day. "Over the past few years I got to know Judge Grant and she holds the type of qualities in a judge that will be fair and bring justice," Cole said.

  • Democrat John Cranley: His mother, Susan Cranley. Former Mayor Thomas A. Luken, a political mentor, explained the choice as he introduced Cranley. "On Election Night, John wondered, 'Who could swear me in?' I said, 'Who got you here? Who got you the most votes?" So Cranley picked his mom, who was the top vote-getter as a newly elected member of the Cincinnati Board of Education. "Thank you mom, " the younger Cranley said afterward, "and Dad, thank you for making this bipartisan."

  • Democrat David C. Crowley: Civil rights lawyer Scott Knox, known for his gay rights advocacy. "Scott is a true leader in defending and promoting the rights of all Americans but especially gays and lesbians," Crowley said in an e-mail. "He was a leader in the fight for the repeal of Article XII. My selection of Scott is meant to send a message on the importance of diversity and inclusion throughout the Cincinnati."

  • Republican Leslie Ghiz: U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt.

  • Republican Chris Monzel: Mother Jeanine Monzel. She studied to become a notary public two years ago, just for the occasion. "Why my mom? Throughout my whole life she has been a role model to me of public service, courage and perserverance." A breast cancer survivor, Monzel said she "never missed a beat" as a grandmother and campaign volunteer, even while undergoing chemotherapy.

  • Charterite Jim Tarbell: Planning Commission member Donald J. Mooney Jr., who said he remembers Tarbell before he was a councilman -- as just a small-time concert promoter who brought the Grateful Dead to the Hyde Park Teen Center.

  • Democrat Cecil Thomas: Wife Pam Thomas. Former U.S. District Judge Jack Sherman was supposed to do it, but demurred at the last moment. "At 4 o'clock this morning I woke up and I asked myself, 'Do I have the authority?'" said Sherman, who is retired and no longer practices law. Pam Thomas, Sherman's former bailiff, did the honors instead.

'New Mayor's School' -- syllabus and class notes

Mayor-elect Mark Mallory talked to reporters last week during his first press conference since being elected. Mallory won't be able to attend a seminar on "Mayors and the Media" at Harvard University today because of his swearing in. (Photo by Carrie Cochran/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Mark Mallory
might have to ask one of his fellow mayors-elect to let him copy their notes this week.

Mallory had planned to attend the "new mayor's school" -- a three-day crash course at Harvard University in running a major American city -- but decided this week that the demands of organizing City Council would make that impossible.

Besides, the meat of the "new mayor's" session is today, and Mallory will be occupied with day-long ceremonies.

Today's classes alone include sessions on mayoral leadership, crisis management, city budgeting, and ethics in city government, according to a draft copy of the class schedule.

And there's a whole session on dealing with the media -- a subject Mallory admits he could use some tutoring in after being virtually ignored by the Cincinnati media in his decade-long career as a state lawmaker.

New mayors are advised to be honest, let reporters "buy their own bullets" on difficult subjects - don't help them write negative stories - and "call" the media on inaccurate reporting. That's the advice that Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic, later president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, gives in his class on media relations:
Non-beat or lazy reporters will hurt you if they don't understand you. Do not assume they'll know what to ask or will make effort to ask for details. This is especially important for TV. For them, tailor a simple message at the outset of your communication. They may buy it and ask for little more from you.
Download the week's schedule for the Seminar on Transition and Leadership for Newly-Elected Mayors (in .pdf format).

Read excerpts of Plusquellic's speech on press relations (in .pdf format).

Crowley 'disappointed and disturbed' with Mallory

The 40th City Council hasn't been sworn in yet, but there's already a crack in the consensus-building.

Democrat David C. Crowley has evidently been shut out of the coalition that's been meeting over the past few days to reorganize City Council.

The committee he's chaired for two years -- the Community Development and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee -- has been split up, with economic development going to a committee chaired by Charterite Chris Bortz and environmental and transportation issues going to a beefed-up "Vibrant Neighborhoods" committee that will continue to be chaired by Democrat Laketa Cole.

Late Wednesday, he sent this e-mail to supporters:

I learned tonight that Mayor-Elect Mark Mallory choose not to give me a chairmanship position on ANY City Council Committee for the term starting tomorrow. In fact, Mallory did not even recommend me for the vice-chair position of the committee I currently chair.

As the current chairperson of the Economic Development Committee and former chairperson of the Education Committee, the 4th top vote getter in this month's election, one of the most senior members on Council and a fellow Democrat, I am very disappointed and disturbed with Mallory's decision.

In fact, Mallory recommended two Charterites and one Republicans for chairmanships over me, a Democrat.

I urge you to contact Mayor-Elect Mallory TONIGHT and let him know that you are angered and frustrated with his decision to completely overlook me. He can be contacted at mark.mallory@cincinnati-oh.gov or 352-3250. The quickest way is to call the office and register a complaint because we are not sure whether or not Mallory is checking his email yet.

Thank you for your continued support,

David Crowley

Since the meetings to organize City Council have all taken place in secret, it's unclear where Crowley and Mallory parted ways. Crowley walked out of a meeting Wednesday night and declined to comment.

But some hints come in a memo Crowley wrote to Mallory earlier in the day, giving a point-by-point critique of rule changes proposed by a tripartisan committee Mallory appointed. Crowley suggested that the newly elected lawmakers should get in at least a couple meetings before proposing major changes in the council's procedures. He urged them to keep environmental issues as part of the mission of the Economic Development Committee and opposed rule changes that he said would restrict debate.

Rocky Merz, Crowley's chief of staff, had this response: "For the record the only thing I can figure is that David had the wherewithal to open his mouth with objections to the proposed rule changes, which were done secretly and many of which will severely inhibit the public from understanding how their elected officials will function. Mark is clearly directing these changes and as a result David lost his chairmanship. I don't know what else it could be. He has been an effective legislative leader on Council and a loyal Democrat."

Read Crowley's memo to Mallory on proposed rule changes (in .pdf format)

Councilman David C. Crowley hugs a supporter at the Hamilton County Board of Elections on Election night. (Photo by Tara Bricking Carvalho/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

A day for ceremony -- and getting started

A banner hangs from the Plum Street entrance to City Hall for today's inaugural ceremonies.

Mayor-elect Mark Mallory's public schedule for the day mixes ceremony with work in the mayor's office:
  • 9 a.m. -- Mallory arrives at City Hall, gets settled into mayor's office.
  • 11 a.m. -- Swearing-in Ceremony, Council chambers.
  • 12:30 p.m. -- Working lunch with staff.
  • 2 p.m. -- Back to City Hall, working in mayor's office.
  • 4:45 p.m. -- Mallory and family leave City Hall via motorcade to Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal (may make unannounced stops).
  • 5:15 p.m. -- Motorcade arrives Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.
  • 5:30 p.m. -- Mallory gives Inaugural Address, Union Terminal.
  • 6:15 p.m. -- Reception following speech.
  • 7:15 p.m. -- Mallory exits Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal.
The day is a little shorter and a little more flexible than the one opponent David Pepper had proposed for his first day.

There's no word on Pepper's revised schedule.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Closed-door meeting to discuss new council rules

Eight members of the next City Council are meeting behind these closed doors this afternoon, barring reporters from their pre-swearing in session.

Members of the 40th City Council are meeting behind closed doors this afternoon to discuss what Mayor-elect Mark Mallory calls "internal process issues."

On the agenda is a memo by Councilman-elect Jeff Berding, who wants to make broad changes to the council rules. The following is the text of the Berding memo:

Cincinnati City Council

Proposed Rules Committee Action Items

Standing Committees

Law and Public Safety
Economic Development
Vibrant Neighborhoods, Environment and Public Services
Arts, Culture, Tourism and Marketing
Education, Health and Recreation

Rules Committee should be merged in with Committee on Committees. We do not need 2 "housekeeping" procedural committees. Rules Committee will be responsible for membership of committees and jurisdiction of committees.

Council Sunset Rule

Have solicitor draft a sunset provision into Council Rules -- so that all matters pending in committee shall NOT be turned over to successive committees. Each new Council starts anew with council business and thus must give affirmative vote of Council majority or new committee majority to take up old items as new items of business on calendar.

Conduct of Business

Council will end the practice of by-leaves or emergency by-leaves. Have time on agenda for announcements only. This would be for largely informational and ceremonial matters. No legislative issues may be taken up that are not on the calendar. Motions, communications, resolutions and ordinances should go to Committee for consideration through the legislative process after being assigned to committee by the Mayor.

Motion becomes an ordinance

Motion drafted by a Council member should NOT be referred to appropriate department in administration for analysis and preparation of report UNLESS motion is signed by 4 Council members or the Chair of Committee with jurisdiction on topic and 1 other Council member.

5.3 & 5.4 Preservation of order and Appeals from Decision of Chair -- we should have a trained parliamentarian at every meeting.

6.3 Limitation of Debate -- No member shall be allowed to speak more than once on any one subject. (delete until every other member choosing to speak thereon shall have spoken). Limit member comments to 3 minutes.

Without Recommendation

Report that was reviewed in committee and not approved should NOT be placed on calendar.

Council Calendar -- Items must be on agenda, and Council members should be required to file proposed amendments to Mayor/Manager by 10 AM morning of Committee/Council session.

Committee Meetings -- Committee chairs should have the authority to schedule meetings and set agenda for Committee hearings.

7.12 -- Referrals to City Manager -- Constituent matters must be directed to city manager for follow-up. Similar to motions, requests for information should go to manager instead of department heads. These requests for reports or information need to be signed by Committee chairs with jurisdiction on that matter or a majority of Council members, with a "1-hour rule exception" so that basic informational items that require less than 1 hour of staff time can be requested directly by any Council member to the Manager.

2.6 Citizens' Forum

Give the chair the ability to limit public appearances to one per month. If a person has spoken in that month, then speaking card can be passed over if other members of public seeking to speak.

3.6 Allocation of Office Space -- Council rules on this subject do not cover new members. Council should establish that offices for new members will be based on order of finish in the citywide race.

Tarbell bombs in vice mayor comedy tour

Mayor-elect Mark Mallory announces that Councilman Jim Tarbell will be his vice mayor Tuesday at City Hall. (Photos by Carrie Cochran/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Whatever reasons Mark Mallory had for picking Jim Tarbell as his vice mayor, comedic chemistry was certainly not one of them.

Tarbell has long been one of the most entertaining people on Cincinnati's social and political scene, but his vice mayoral debut was a resounding flop. In a few short minutes, he told three jokes that went over the heads of the assembled press corps, insulted the mayor of Columbus, and so tortured a "2,000-year-old man" routine that even a 60-year-old couldn't figure it out.

A transcript of his introduction:
MALLORY: Ladies and gentlemen, the vice mayor (laughs) of the city of Cincinnati. Come on over here. (Applause).

TARBELL: You guys got nothing else better to do today? It reminds me of George Burns. He said you know you’re getting old when you bend down to tie your shoe and you wonder if there’s something else you can do while you're down there. (Mallory chuckles.) That's a joke. (Smattering of laughter.)

MALLORY: They’re a little pensive today. I’m not sure why. I’m not sure what's going on. I think it's that Michael Coleman dropped out of the mayor’s – er, the governor’s race.

TARBELL: Oh, he did?

MALLORY: They’re all upset about that. So …

TARBELL: I'll remind my wife not to drive.

MALLORY: Okay, all right, so … Do you have some words you’d like to offer? I've already introduced you and talked about why I made the selection.

TARBELL: It reminds me of Mel Brooks, was it the 2,000-year-old man, or the 1,000-year-old man? It was either 1,000 or 2,000. And Carl Reiner was intervewing him and said, "Do you remember who discovered sex?" He said, "Oh, yeah, that was Bernie." He said, "Bernie? Could you elaborate on that a little further?" He said, "Yeah, Bernie said, he woke up one morning and he said, 'I think there are girls here.'" And he said, "Why did you think that?" And he said, "Because in the middle of the night, I was thrilled and delighted."

That’s another joke. That's my way of saying I’m thrilled and delighted. It’s another way around it. I guess if there were more than three people here that were over 60 they might understand my humor.

MALLORY: Well, I should say, I've made a new selection for vice mayor. (Long laughter.) Okay.

TARBELL: We'll work on that.

MALLORY: Yes, we'll work on the stand-up act here.

TARBELL: That's why I'm glad to be here, because I know he's got under 60 covered and I've got over 60 covered, so we can’t miss.

MALLORY: That's right. That's right....
Watch raw video of Mallory announcement from WCPO.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A brief history of the vice mayor's office

Democratic Mayor-elect Mark Mallory's decision to reach across party lines to pick Charterite Jim Tarbell as vice mayor is unusual -- but not unprecedented.

From 1926 to 1971, the mayor and the vice mayor came from the same political party. Because Democrats rarely fielded candidates of their own, whichever party got the most seats elected all the officers -- including the mayor, vice mayor, president pro-tem and committee chairmen.

That changed in 1971, when the Charter-Democratic coalition took control. The deal-making that produced that coalition often led to one-year mayors and cross-party vice mayors. Democratic Mayor Thomas A. Luken took on Charterite William J. Chenault as vice mayor. Charterite Bobbie Sterne served two stints as mayor, both times with Democrat David S. Mann as vice mayor. And who do you suppose was vice mayor when Democrat Jerry Springer was mayor? Then-Charterite J. Kenneth Blackwell, now Ohio Secretary of State.

That deal-making continued through Mayor Charlie Luken's "Gang of Five" days from 1985 to 1987, when Luken was elected mayor and Blackwell -- then a Republican -- was made vice mayor. (Blackwell insists to this day that he was the power behind the throne -- not because he was vice mayor, but because he chaired the powerful Finance Committee and headed the conservative caucus.) The city has had Democratic mayors and vice mayors ever since.

Few vice mayors have used the position as springboard to higher office. Of the 26 vice mayors since the 1925 charter, only seven have become mayor. The city's first woman mayor, Dorothy N. Dolbey, was vice mayor when Mayor Edward N. Waldvogel died. Some histories still record her as "acting mayor" for five months in 1954.

If the mayor's job was considered mostly ceremonial under the "weak mayor" system through 2001, the vice mayor's job was even more so. The first vice mayor under the "stronger mayor" system was Alicia Reece, who tried to raise the profile of the job by becoming a "national ambassador" for Cincinnati at a time when some civil rights groups were urging a boycott of the city.

But Reece said she had her own constituency, and didn't see herself as Mayor Luken's chief lieutenant on City Council. "Your first obligation is to remember that you're elected as a council member," she said. "The vice mayor is an additive."

A list of Cincinnati vice mayors, courtesy the Clerk of Council's office:

Vice MayorPartyYears

Stanley MathewsCharterite1926-1931

John H. DruffelCharterite1932

Edward B. ImbusCharterite1932-1937

Nicholas KleinRepublican1938-1939

Edward N. WaldvogelCharterite1940-1941

Willis D. GradisonRepublican1942-1947

Edward N. WaldvogelCharterite1948-1953

Dorothy N. DolbeyCharterite1954

Albert C. JordanCharterite1954-1955

Theodore M. Berry Charterite1956-1957

William Cody KellyRepublican1958-1959

Walton H. BachrachRepublican1960-1961

Joseph L. DeCourceyRepublican1961-1963

Eugene P. RuehlmannRepublican1964-1967

Willis D. Gradison Jr.Republican1968-1971

William J. ChenaultDemocrat1971-1975

David S. MannDemocrat1975-1977

J. Kenneth BlackwellCharterite1977-1978

David S. MannDemocrat1978-1980

Thomas B. BrushCharterite1980-1982

Arn BortzCharterite1982

Peter StraussDemocrat1982-1983

Marian SpencerCharterite1983-1984

Sally B. FellerhoffDemocrat1984-1985

J. Kenneth BlackwellRepublican1985-1987

Peter StraussDemocrat1987-1993

Tyrone K. YatesDemocrat1993-1997

Minette CooperDemocrat1999-2001

Alicia ReeceDemocrat2001-2005

James R. TarbellCharterite2005

Republican voters cast longer council ballots

Here's one reason that voters elected what Mayor Charlie Luken calls the most conservative City Council since the Gang of Five: Voters in Republican precincts vote for more City Council candidates, on average, than their Democratic counterparts.

That's another interesting statistic courtesy Republican lawyer W. Stuart Dornette, who's been analyzing City Council elections for three decades.

Cincinnati voters can vote for up to nine candidates -- but the average Cincinnati voter ends up picking only six. Dornette's analysis shows that Republicans (who make up about a third of the city, according to 2004 presidential voting results) are more willing to spread their votes around:

"Strong Democratic areas," Dornette notes, is usually -- but not always -- synonymous with African-American voters, where some leaders encourage "bullet voting" as a way to concentrate the power of the voting bloc.

The numbers also bring up a similar biennial dilemma for GOP leaders. Should the party endorse a slate of nine candidates and risk diluting the Republican vote? Or run a shorter ticket and have Republicans seek out conservative Democrats?

"The challenge for Republicans when they run a short slate," Dornette noted, is that they "train their voters into voting for Dems."

There were only four endorsed Republican candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot. So who got those extra Republican votes? Charterites Jim Tarbell and Chris Bortz finished high in East Side Republican precincts, while Democrats John Cranley and Jeff Berding performed well in West Side GOP precincts.

GOP leaders say that their voting power can't be measured by Republican candidates alone.

"I think Republican voters supported their own Republican candidates, and they supported the conservative Democratic candidates, and the conservative Charter candidates," said Hamilton County Republican Party Executive Director Brad Greenberg.

Portune to run for state Democratic chair

The Enquirer's Kimball Perry reports this morning that Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune has entered the race for chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party.

Read Portune's letter to Ohio Democrats (in .pdf format).

After election defeat, Smitherman loses lawsuit

It's been a tough month for Christopher Smitherman.

First, he lost his council seat on Nov. 8.

On Nov. 16, he suffered a legal setback when a judge threw out his medical malpractice lawsuit against Montgomery urologist Philip J. Buffington. Smitherman claimed in a lawsuit filed last year that he was "near death" after Buffington botched a hernia operation months before Smitherman's successful 2003 council campaign.

But Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Patrick T. Dinkelacker ruled against Smitherman after Buffington's lawyer argued Smitherman failed to produce an expert witness who could testify that Buffington's treatment fell below the accepted standard of care.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Who wants to be the vice mayor?

Mayor-elect Mark Mallory says he will finally announce his vice mayor sometime before he's sworn in on Thursday. But the three weeks since the election have given the pundits plenty of time to ruminate about who his pick might be, and speculation has become a favorite parlor game in and around 801 Plum St.

After saying initially that all nine members of City Council would be given equal consideration, Mallory has defined the job description in such a way that some council members would appear more qualified than others.

A handicapper's guide:
  • The big chair: "Whoever's appointed vice mayor has to be ready to become mayor of the city if something happens to me. I take that seriously," Mallory said. If prior legislative experience is a significant factor -- and Mallory suggested during the campaign that David Pepper's four years on council made him barely qualified to be mayor -- it's hard to see how he could appoint one of the newcomers. Those with the most experience on City Council are, in order, Jim Tarbell, John Cranley, David C. Crowley, Chris Monzel and Laketa Cole.
  • A full-time job: "I do see an enhanced role for the vice mayor," Mallory said, seeking "someone who communicates a lot more with council members" and "reaches into the community a lot more." That's starting to sound like a full-time job. Council members who are retired, self-employed or who don't have another job include Cole, Crowley, Tarbell and Cecil Thomas.

  • Party affiliation: Mallory has said he sees the vice mayor as having a "policy role," helping to formulate proposals in the mayor's office before they come to City Council. That criterion would seem to favor Democrats (Jeff Berding, Cole, Cranley, Crowley, Thomas) or perhaps a Democratic-leaning Charterite (Tarbell).

  • Politics: While Mallory hasn't talked about it openly, there are also political considerations. No mayor -- with Charlie Luken as the exception -- would want a vice mayor likely to challenge him for the mayor's office in four years. Tarbell is term-limited in 2007, and Crowley, term-limited in 2009, is unlikely to harbor secret mayoral ambitions. Ticket-balancing usually plays a role in this kind of thing, but all of his likely choices are either white or female. A top vote-getter is also handy, and Cranley, Tarbell and Cole were in the top third of their class.

  • Desire: No one has lobbied harder for the job -- at least in public -- than Cole. "My case is based on, we need a female in a leadership position. We have a male mayor. We have seven male members of council who are male, and the city manager is male." She's also the president pro-tem of City Council -- a forgotten office that makes her third in line to the mayor's chair.
If you're scoring at home, that puts Cole, Crowley and Tarbell at the top of the list of vice mayor contenders. Only Mallory knows for sure.

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